THERE is no denying it, being left out of the first Test between England and South Africa at Centurion was a huge disappointment for me.

Making the final 12, it was touch and go between Graham Onions and myself who would get the last bowling spot, and he got the nod.

It was tough, but all you can do is get your head down and carry on doing the right things.

I had taken some wickets (5-42) in the last warm-up game against a South African Invitational XI and probably out-bowled some of the others in that game.

But it wasn’t quite enough.

I’m not the one who picks the team, so I’m not sure why I wasn’t in it. Maybe it had something to do with keeping a similar line-up to that which had clinched the Ashes in the summer.

I really don’t know, but I do know I’m bowling just as well, so there’s no point getting down in the mouth about it.

I used to really take it to heart when I was younger if I didn’t make a team, but as you get older you tend to handle the disappointment better.

I’m wise enough now to know that if you keep pushing for a place then you should get a chance eventually and then it’s up to you to take it when it comes around.

Looking at things from the team point of view, it was very important that we held on for the draw and didn’t get beaten.

Getting off to a losing start in South Africa would have made things very difficult, because they are such a strong side.

Swanny’s innings was a brilliant knock – and also a key one for England.

It meant the difference between being only 62 runs behind rather than being 200, a position from where South Africa could have dominated the match.

It took time out of the game when they needed to make enough runs to put the pressure on us and, with a late order rally, we were able to cling on.

The boys at the end (Paul Collingwood and Graham Onions) did a great job as a last wicket partnership.

It was encouraging to see a lower order batsman fighting like Graham did, just as Monty Panesar had in the first Ashes Test at Cardiff a few months before.

As for Swanny, he’s not shut up about taking five wickets and scoring 80-odd – but then he never shuts up anyway!

Seriously, though, for the last 12 months his bowling has been outstanding and probably one of the top five in the world.

You tend to have spells as a cricketer where things don’t go right for you and others where you can’t do any wrong.

Swanny is in one of those spells where he is really confident and enjoying it. When that’s the case thing seem to go your way.

But don’t get me wrong. It’s been no fluke, because he’s been brilliant.

I’m just itching for the chance to get out there with him.

THE biggest cockroach I’d ever seen found it’s way into the England dressing room the other day – and guess who landed the job of removing it?

It’s at times like that you get to see who the big girls’ blouses are, and there were more than a few knocking about!

Close to the front of the queue had to be my Notts team-mates Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad.

Swanny was diving for cover behind the benches and Broady wasn’t anywhere to be seen either.

The bug eventually made its way into Broady’s bag, which is when I was given the task of getting rid.

All I needed to capture it in the end was a bit of tissue paper, although I must admit I wasn’t overly keen to do it.

It took about 10 minutes in all. The hardest part was finding the cockroach in between all Broady's shampoos and moisturising products!

I’ve never seen anything quite like it, but it was one of those moments that are brilliant for raising a smile.

THIS will be the first Christmas I have spent away from home since I played in Australia when I was 19 – and there’s certainly no snow out here!

What makes it so much better and ensures you don’t miss home too much is that my family have this week flown out to join me.

Their flight on Tuesday from Heathrow to Jo’burg and was supposed to land at 10am in South Africa.

But because of the wintry weather back in England, there was a five-hour delay in the flight.

It meant for a very nervy wait on my part, and I’m not very good at it, but Kate and Indiana arrived safe and sound at about 4pm.

It had been just over four weeks since I had seen the two of them and though I have been able to keep in regular contact through Skype, it has been great to see them again.

Already in that short space of time, Indiana has changed so much and being with my family again has given me a massive boost.

It is a strange feeling out here, because you don’t see many trees in shop windows and it almost doesn’t seem like Christmas.

We will be training as normal on Christmas Day morning ready for the Boxing Day Test, but then we are planning to have a family gathering and meal.

Once that’s over, though, I obviously have to get my mind back on the cricket and focus on what is a very important match for us.

That isn’t any problem when the game gets under way because you forget about everything else and concentrate on the job in hand.

WHILE my team Manchester United might not be doing too well of late, I’m pleased to say that my local club Huddersfield Town are flying high.

The biggest problem for the Red Devils is that they don’t have a defence because of all their injuries, which meant for a shocker in the 3-0 defeat at Fulham.

England bowling coach Otis Gibson is a big Man Utd fan like myself, so we were a bit down in the dumps, but at least Chelsea only drew and Liverpool lost again.

Huddersfield, on the other hand, are going great guns.

I always keep an eye on the Terriers’ results and they are certainly banging the goals in this season.

They have a lot of young players in their side and they have a very good up-and-coming manager in Lee Clark, who did well as a player at Newcastle.

He seems to be going down the Arsene Wenger route of nurturing players through – and it looks like it’s paying off.

I’m backing them to play at a higher level and hopefully they can do that at the end of this season.

At least then I would have reason to smile even if United can’t reclaim their Premiership title.